Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus represent about a dozen species of the Opuntia genus
(Family Cactaceae) in the North American deserts. All have flat, fleshy pads
that look like large leaves. The pads are actually modified branches or stems
that serve several functions -- water storage, photosynthesis and flower
production. Chollas are also members of the Opuntia genus but have cylindrical, jointed stems rather than flat pads.